Big Bad Baer Brakes
The seventh stop on the Pickup Fix-up Tour finally gave us a destination to drive to that was more than a few hours from home. Until now, we'd made short trips to various shops within the borders of California and it really didn't feel like we'd gone that far because we were able to sleep at home most nights. Finally though, we got the big part of our journey underway as we he hit the road for Phoenix, Arizona, for a 6 a.m. appointment with Baer Brakes' Todd Gartshore the following morning.
The plan was to meet Todd early in the morning before the oppressive heat of the Phoenix summer would skew our pre-install brake testing results. We met up and took the truck and his test equipment to a remote location in the desert and flogged the truck, laying into the stock brakes from 60 to 0 mph and from almost 100 to 0 mph. The problem was that his equipment was on the fritz and we weren't getting any data about the truck's stopping distance. So, we gave up and headed for the shop to do the install.
Up front, the stock 11-inch rotors and single piston calipers were replaced with Baer two-piece 14-inch rotors and the 6P six-piston calipers. The two-piece 6P calipers are easier for Baer to manufacture, so this is a very affordable caliper for the high level of performance it provides. The calipers are extremely rigid and have six stainless steel pistons stuffed inside of an aluminum housing. The calipers also feature internal crossover tubes, which makes them a little more compact to fit in smaller wheels. Baer uses CPP's new modular drop spindle for '60-'87 Chevy pickups. The one-piece nodular iron design allows early-model trucks to update to larger bearings and it also lowers the truck two inches without moving the wheels out.
Out back, the factory old-school drums will be replaced with a single piston PBR caliper and a 12-inch rotor. The PBR caliper is used on Corvettes and some Trailblazers and features an integrated parking brake. Instead of a small, drum assembly like other brake systems, this caliper has an arm assembly that will mechanically engage the pads.
The complete brake swap took a day and a half to finish and required brake flaring tools along with typical handtools. The only reason you need to flare a brake line is to install the new adjustable proportioning valve on the rear line. Everything else is pretty straightforward and just bolts on, so this is definitely a job the do-it-at-home guy can accomplish.